Over a 10-year period the number of associate’s degree graduates increased 61 percent. Before the recession (in the 2006-2007 school year) only 8,130 students obtained an associate’s degree. During the recession and early part of the recovery, many unemployed workers went back to school to learn new skills and earn a degree. This increased the number of associate’s graduates to a peak of 14,251 in the 2012-2013 school year. As the economy improved, the number of graduates has decreased in the 2013-2014 and 2014-2015 school years.
In the 2014-2015 school year the top two programs of study accounted for 57 percent of the associate’s degrees awarded in the state – and they are general programs geared toward student transfers to four-year institutions. Liberal arts and sciences/liberal studies graduates summed to almost 5,000 in 2015. Another 2,700 students graduated with an associate’s degree in general studies.